I got a call yesterday from one of our volunteers, M. She started by saying, “I have to tell you the most blessed story. I was praying at Founder’s today, and it was such a grace-filled day. God just used my stupidity. I didn’t have any literature, I didn’t say the right things, and yet somehow, in my conversations with a Dad, he had a change of heart, went in to talk to his partner, and they decided to choose life for their baby!”
As M went on, she explained that the gentleman approached her and explained that they already had three children and that his partner couldn’t have this one. Because of some confusion, M thought that the woman was pregnant by another man and that they had decided to abort this one. In the course of explaining things, the father said over and over again, “No, this is my baby. It is mine. I am the father.” Then, as M said, something clicked in the father. He realized that this was his baby. She went on to say, “His tone then changed from justifying it to me to justifying it to himself. Finally, I looked at him and said ‘You have three other children? You must be exhausted. She must be exhausted.” He then looked at Maureen, a little overwhelmed, and said, “I am. We are.” M then looked at him and said, “It is hard, but it gets better, and there are people who want to help you.” The father then said to himself one last time, “I am the father,” and he went inside. In a few minutes, he and the mother of his child came out, both of them absolutely elated. M encouraged them to go to the nearby pregnancy center where there is hope and help, waiting for them.
There are a few takeaways from this conversation. The first is that M kept saying, over and over, “It was such an amazing blessing. God used my stupidity in the moment to bring about great goodness.” For whatever reason, M didn’t quite understand the nature of the relationship, and for whatever reason, the man felt he needed to explain. In doing so, he repeated again and again, “I am the father. It is my baby. I AM THE FATHER!” Eventually, it just clicked with him, and in a way that it may not have happened if her confusion hadn't led him to clarify. I think M was being a bit hard on herself. It wasn’t her stupidity, just a little confusion on her part. That however, brings me to my second takeaway, which is that so many potential volunteers stay away because they do not know what to say; they fear that they are not sufficiently skilled in apologetics; they think that they will say the wrong thing and make it worse; or they just let their doubts and fears keep them away. One of the things that we emphasize in our trainings is that our volunteers are not called to be successful; they are called to be faithful and loving and committed. Our job is not to save babies, but to plant seeds. If we do that and keep doing that, we can eventually step back and see how God has woven even our missteps into a beautiful tapestry. Sometimes it is immediate – like in the case of the turn-away, sometimes it takes a bit longer – like when one of our volunteers gets a text message with a photo of a baby six or eight months down the road, and sometimes we may never fully see it with our human eyes. Even if we never, ever, ever see the fruits of our efforts in the world, we have faith that they are there. In fact, I frequently hear our volunteers say, “I started doing this because I wanted to save babies, I kept doing it because I saw the opportunity to help women, but what surprised me the most of all is how my own faith has deepened – how my life has changed.”
While there are probably a few more takeaways from this conversation, the last one that I want to focus on is how critical it is to build communities that support the dignity of human life at all stages. We often have a picture in our head of what a woman who is abortion-minded looks like. It leads us to make assumptions about who is and who is not at risk of an abortion. In this day and age, every pregnant woman is a little at risk of abortion, because at some moment we all face a crisis. Maybe it is financial. Maybe it is substance abuse. Maybe it is a bad relationship and a woman who wants out or desperately wants to stay in. Perhaps it is school, work, or lack of work. It could even be a desperately wanted baby with a devastating diagnosis. It might even be an incredibly loving family that is just so very tired and a little overwhelmed.
Today I’d like to ask you to lift up this father and mother and their four children – three on the outside and one in the womb. Let’s pray that they are strengthened and fortified, not only by God who is our greatest consolation, but by a community of people whose faith affirms the dignity of all human life, every day.
Thank you M, for being out there with #TeamThursday! You are amazing.
PS: To further illustrate this point, M and her prayer partner had a second turn-away on Thursday, this one in spite of a language barrier. Once again proving that you need not be perfect in order to change someone’s life!